Mappen Noodle Bar is a very Japanese establishment that thrives of cooperation between the chef and the customer to provide the most efficient service. You order by telling the person behind the udon station which number from an enumerated menu you want, whether you want it with udon or soba noodles, whether you want it hot or cold, and whether you want it in regular or large size. Unlike restaurants of this kind in Japan, their noodles are not made fresh, but come dried.
This is one of my ultimate comfort foods: cold udon in a dashi broth with an ontama (half-boiled egg) ($6.70). You can get toppings of shallots or tempura bits, but I prefer mine without. Cold udon is deliciously chewy in a way that hot udon can never be, and gooey egg yolks are the best way to eat eggs (hard boiled egg yolks are no fun!).
And then my choice of sides is tempura sweet potato ($1.20). It’s so satisfying to bite into something starchy. The sweetness of the sweet potato goes very well with the savoury batter. Yum.
I’ll almost certainly be venturing into the heart of the city for more!
Mappen Noodle Bar is located at 11/537 – 551 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000.